NOAA Fisheries Announces Marine Aquaculture Opportunity Areas

Recently the NOAA Fisheries announced the selection of federal waters off southern California and in the Gulf of Mexico as the areas of focused evaluation for the first two of ten Aquaculture Opportunity Areas in the United States. Establishing these Aquaculture Opportunity Areas are part of NOAA’s responsibility under the May 2020 Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth.

Information source: National Aquaculture Association/media release

These two regions were selected based on the already available spatial analysis data and current industry interest in developing sustainable aquaculture operations in the region. NOAA envisions each AOA as a small defined geographic area that has been evaluated to determine its potential suitability for commercial aquaculture. While the regions for the first two AOAs have been selected, the exact locations and configuration will be shaped by a combination of spatial analysis and public input.

These AOAs are expected to support three to five aquaculture farm sites of varying types including finfish, shellfish, macroalgae, or some combination of these. To identify each AOA, NOAA will use a combination of powerful data-driven siting analysis using hundreds of types of data on ocean uses and public input. The synthesis of these two essential elements will highlight space that is environmentally, socially, and economically appropriate for commercial aquaculture.

Learn more about the AOA announcement and view additional material on the NOAA Fisheries website.